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Beyond the Boxscore: Edmonton Oilers beat Calgary Flames on back of strong defence

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Stevenson
5 months ago
An unfortunate bounce took away a strong performance from Dan Vladar as the Edmonton Oilers used a strong defensive performance to down the Calgary Flames for their 13th straight win. Calgary was able to keep the big guys – Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl – off the scoresheet and still couldn’t get enough offence to find a lead. It wasn’t because of any amazing performances on the defensive side of the puck, rather a goaltender who may have had his best showing of the season. The Oilers deserved the win for sure, it was just nice to see Calgary keep it close so everyone stayed entertained throughout the first Battle of Alberta Calgary had hosted in over a calendar year.
CF% – 40.51%, SCF% – 44.96%, HDCF% – 40.1%, xGF% – 32.43%
It’s a Team Game – The Flames got off to a brutal start spending most of the opening frame defending in their own zone. The Oilers kept generating breakaways which eventually led to Ryan MacLeod getting in behind Dennis Gilbert for a pretty beautiful goal. Edmonton really felt in control for most of the game – even when attacking low in the zone it felt the Oilers were always in the right spot to keep Calgary from entering the dangerous areas or just simply out muscled them in puck battles. You don’t win 13 in a row by accident, the Oilers certainly have improved to a level we have never seen them at. Especially when they win without needing 97 to contribute.
Corsi King – Andrew Mangiapane (56.02%) led the only line to finish with more shot attempts for themselves than they saw against. MacKenzie Weegar (50.20%) was the only defenceman to finish at even or higher. The rest of the team spent a stretch of time or two in the zone trying to keep the Oilers to the outside. It wasn’t an effort like the Chicago or St. Louis games from earlier this year, but it also was not at a level that sends a message this is a surefire playoff team.
Corsi Clown – Every time they do take a step forward the three steps back come pretty swiftly afterwards. Dennis Gilbert (16.23%) in his first game back from injury really suffered to defend, having Oesterle (17.34%) as his partner instead of a player he has long time chemistry with in Nick DeSimone (DNP) is just a bad call from the coaching staff. It’s like the quote from the Mean Girls movie “stop trying to make fetch happen”, the more you try to make Oesterle happen the more it’s going to go bad for you. On the year Oesterle has an expected goals above replacement value of -1.6 in comparison to Gilbert’s positive 1.7 (via EvolvingHockey.com). It’s very obvious what needs to be done here.
Under Pressure –
Taken By Chance – Noah Hanifin (38.21 SCF% // 0 HDCF%) and Chris Tanev (40.44% // 0%) had some heavy matchup duties and they did not go well for them. Usually I would go on an irate rant about how bad this is, but when you consider that it’s McDavid and he didn’t get a point – good enough. The fourth line got their usual 6-7 minutes at 5v5 and promptly surrendered over 4 high danger looks. With a young man playing his first NHL game with them they also get a pass. You have got to let the young players work through their problems so they can grow – this is literally step 1 in the NHL for young Adam Klapka (12.45% // 0%) – there’ll be better outcomes on the horizon.
xG Breakdown –
xGF% – The Texas Tiger name has got to stick, because it just aesthetically fits Blake Coleman (52.62%). He was a great interview on after hours if anyone wants to check it out. Outside of Coleman and his line everyone really had problems with the Oilers. I know it seems blasphemous to write the Oilers were good on the Flames part of the Nation Network but they earned a lot of respect from me after that performance. They really defended in the manner they’ve needed to for the entire McDavid window. Have I distracted everyone enough – I just couldn’t write another terribly bad paragraph after the roastings from the last two games.
Game Flow –
Game Score –
Shot Heatmap –
In The Crease – A++ from Dan Vladar who was very clearly the best player in a Flaming C jersey Saturday night. Constant breakaway saves, great rebound control, and fantastic displays of athleticism. A freak goal against is the worst outcome for a guy that gave them a real chance to steal one and end a record-breaking Canadian win streak. I know I’m a very strong voice in the Wolf camp and have even been quite harsh on talking about and judging Vladar’s performance, but he’s had a pretty darn good week.2.52 expected goals against – not counting the Oilers power plays – with just the 2 goals against. Top notch stuff.
The Goals –
Flashalytic’s 3 Stars –
1) Dan Vladar
2) MacKenzie Weegar
3) Blake Coleman
(Stats compiled from Naturalstattrick.com // Game Score from Hockeystatcards.com // xG and Under Pressure charts from HockeyViz.com // Game Flow and Shot Heatmap from NaturalStatTrick.com)

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